We think one of the best parts of travelling is seeing the country you're visiting through the eyes of a local. That means attending, and getting involved in, all the events on offer in your country of choice while you're there – what better way to learn about traditions and meet new people?
Here are just a few events to consider during your travels in May:
Festival of Snakes, Italy
May 1, 2014
You'll need nerves of steel to attend this annual event! The fearsome festival is celebrated in Cucullo, just over an hour's drive from Rome, and occurs on the first Thursday in May. Celebrations are said to date back to pre-Roman times, when a saint, according to local legend, apparently caused all the snakes in the area to become harmless.
To celebrate the saint's kind gesture, townspeople carry the statue in a procession down the streets – however, this is no normal procession, as both the statue and walkers are draped in live snakes! Although the serpents used in the celebration are all non-poisonous, witnessing snakes in such abundance is still bound to strike a nerve with the most brave of travellers!
Horse Fair, Spain
May 11 – 18, 2014
This annual celebration in Jerez de la Frontera is a festival dedicated to the equine species. Parades, performances and flamencos take centre stage during the celebrations, and Spanish people come from far and wide to admire the beauty of the Andalusian and thoroughbred horses in particular. Admire the famed Andalusian horses in action during performances, or watch an equestrian show while nestled in a Spanish vineyard enjoying delectable drops.
Festival de Cannes, Italy
May 14 – 25, 2014
This famous film festival is a must-visit for budding cinematographers, directors and actors/actresses alike, as well as humble film buffs. The first festival was held in 1946, and has been celebrated during May annually since 1952.
The festival aims to celebrate the art of filmmaking, and famous faces including Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot have attended in the past. Visit and discover short films and historic classics, relax at an open-air screening, and bask in the rich history of filmmaking, before applauding the award-winners for 2014.
Cheese rolling, Gloucestershire
May 26, 2014
You may think cheese is best kept on a platter with bread and olives, but this festival at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire likes to shake tradition up. Instead of consuming the large rolls of cheese, participants race by chasing after cheese down the incredibly steep Cooper's Hill in a bid for victory each Late Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
Cheeses used are usually Double Gloucester variety and weight between seven and eight pounds, although the 2013 races were conducted using plastic cheeses due to police recommendation. The steep face of Cooper's Hill is arguably the most exciting attraction of the event – it would be difficult enough to walk down, let alone run!
Land diving (Naghol), Pentecost Island
Weekends in May, 2014
This ancient tradition, held on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, is said to have inspired the modern practice of bungy jumping, but the annual practice of land diving is a little more risky. Each year the diving is held during the weekend from April to June, and involves men and boys from the island leaping from towering wooden structures with only a vine wrapped around their ankles. The practice is highly risky and can result in serious injury or death if the vine is the wrong length.
Legend has it that the original land diver was a woman attempting to escape her abusive husband, but the practice has now evolved to male-only divers, and is carried out to ensure a plentiful harvest of yams for the coming year.